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Regulation and oversight of gun sales reduces trafficking to criminals
Date:7/7/2009

Comprehensive regulation of gun sellers appears to reduce the trafficking of guns to criminals, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Preventing the diversion of guns to criminals is important because 85 percent of guns recovered by police were recovered from criminal suspects who were not the original purchasers of the guns according to prior research from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The Hopkins study is the first to gather and incorporate measures of the enforcement of gun sale laws into a study of the effectiveness of those laws. It is available online in the Journal of Urban Health and in the just-released July 2009 print edition.

"In the U.S., few states have a comprehensive system to keep firearms sellers accountable," said the study's lead author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, and co-director of the Bloomberg School's Center for Gun Policy and Research and associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "Our analysis found that the states with strong regulations and oversight of gun dealers, as well as regulation of private sellers, have far less gun trafficking than do states that lack these measures."

U.S. federal law requires gun dealers to be licensed by the ATF, keep records of sales, and ensure that purchasers have passed a background check. Some states place additional regulations over gun retailers such as mandatory inspections and anti-theft security measures. Federal gun law also permits private sellers to transfer guns without a background check or record keeping. Fifteen states regulate gun sales by all private sellers and two additional states regulate private gun sales at gun shows.

For the study, researchers examined state laws governing gun sales using data from ATF crime gun traces from 54 U.S. cities. The analysis also included a survey of law enforcement agencies' practices
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Contact: Tim Parsons
tmparson@jhsph.edu
410-955-7619
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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